Partners in Crime
Grade : B+

“Be honest and be yourself” is the dating advice given back when I was single. Partners in Crime is a rom-com that explores lying to your love and what happens when your lies implode.

Amira Patel is unlucky in love. Or unlovable. She’s not sure which it is but she does know that being dumped in a five-star restaurant and left to pay the expensive bill was not what she had planned for the day. When she gets a call asking that she deal with some paperwork relating to her aunt’s estate, she decides to drive to Nevada to handle it rather than having the stuff mailed to her in California. It’s a short trip and maybe coping with something much sadder will help her forget breaking up with a guy she didn’t love (but had hoped to marry anyway).

Naveen Desai is unlucky in love. He’s met two perfect women and both times, has been with them just long enough to start thinking of marriage right before they broke up with him. He’s now devoting himself to his scaled-back career, working hard to keep his Parkinson afflicted grandfather’s law firm viable while also taking care of his gramps.

When Naveen waltzes into the firm’s conference room to meet the heir of a late client’s estate, he is stunned to discover that the Amira he had once been in love with is the Mira Chaudhary listed in the will. After a brief, awkward conversation about the past, they agree to keep things professional and get through the paperwork quickly. They succeed and that should be the end of this unfortunate encounter but of course, it’s not. Minutes later they meet in the parking lot and Naveen discovers just why Mira had needed an alias.

Her father had been the worst sort of con artist, and Mira had wanted nothing to do with him or his business. She has built an honest, respectable life for herself far away from any of her family. The only person she remained in contact with was her aunt, someone who had also distanced herself from Mira’s father’s shady shenanigans. So when the thugs in the garage approach Mira demanding the return of a valuable necklace, she sincerely has no idea what they are talking about. Naveen walks in at just the wrong moment, tries to save her, and winds up tied up alongside her instead. Neither of them really knows what is happening or why but they do know one thing; they’d best work together if they plan to survive the night.

This is a classic caper romance, where our hero and heroine spend their time racing around trying to find clues as to where the jewelry is, team up with some interesting friends as they do so, and naturally fall (back) in love along the way.

I’m not going to say a lot about the plot except that it is meant to be campy and fun, not serious and gritty. It’s made as believable as one of these stories can be by the fact that Mira was raised by her father and had been working with him/for him since her pre-teens. She can pick locks, undo zip-tie handcuffs, play a mean game of poker, and shoot bad guys without breaking a sweat. This isn’t, however, the life she wants for herself. Mira worked hard in school, graduated college with an accounting degree, and very much wants the classic home with a white picket fence, husband, kids, and loving extended family that was missing from her childhood. She’s been working with a matchmaker to make that dream a reality but hasn’t succeeded and can’t figure out why. Spending this time with Naveen helps Mira realize that her inability to share her past with anyone has kept her from enjoying the present and building a future. I really liked that Mira has such ordinary dreams in spite of being such an extraordinary person and that the author writes her in such a way that I found her desires authentic, understandable, and relatable.

Naveen gave love a try twice and struck out both times. Since then, he has slowly built a better life for himself. Going to rehab for his drinking problem and quitting his demanding, high-powered job to work at his grandfather’s community law practice has helped him move to a better place both emotionally and physically. He is probably more ready for love and commitment now than he was in the past but he is wary of it. Spending this time with Mira helps him to realize why - he still loves her! It also helps him to understand why a couple with their scorching chemistry and deep emotional commitment didn’t work out - Mira hadn’t shared a key part of herself with him and her fear of someday having to do that was probably more behind their breakup than anything else. Once again, the author does a great job of creating a likable, engaging character whose genuineness serves as a great contrast to the exciting but unrealistic story she’s telling. This part of the book is near perfection - Naveen and Mira feel like people who could walk off the pages of the book and be right at home in the real world.

Their romance lacks some of the scorching sexuality that I associate with this writer, but that’s due more to plot constraints than a lack of chemistry. There is plenty of heat between Mira and Naveen once they meet again but that is understandably on the backburner until they deal with the big issue of the stolen diamonds. The HEA buildup works fantastically with this slow simmer - Mira and Naveen always had loads of sparks between them but something was missing from their emotional connection (or so we are told). Now that last piece falls into place to give them a wonderful, sincere romance.

The secondary characters are written rather two-dimensionally but that works because the focus is on the leads. Mira’s family, friends, and honorary uncles are (with a few notable exceptions) likable, interesting people who fit smoothly into the plot. The convenience of both their existence and roles in the narrative might have been a bit too opportune to feel anything like reality but that’s okay - this tale is meant to be fun and escapist.

My one real quibble with the story is the sheer, relentless unbelievability of it. For example, some big (huge, gigantic) issues are introduced with Mira’s family at the end. The kind of thing that shakes the foundation of what you believed about your life and forces you to re-examine your entire childhood. We don’t really get to watch Mira deal with the aftermath of that, which hammers home the almost saccharine nature of the text. But again, that’s a quibble.

Partners in Crime is pretty near everything that a rom-com should be - a lighthearted, occasionally silly, sometimes funny story with a delightful, heartwarming romance at its center. I thoroughly enjoyed it and think fans looking for a breezy, sweet contemporary will as well.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local bookshop

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Reviewed by Maggie Boyd
Grade : B+

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : October 18, 2022

Publication Date: 10/2022

Review Tags: AoC Nevada PoC addiction funny

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Maggie Boyd

I've been an avid reader since 2nd grade and discovered romance when my cousin lent me Lord of La Pampa by Kay Thorpe in 7th grade. I currently read approximately 150 books a year, comprised of a mix of Young Adult, romance, mystery, women's fiction, and science fiction/fantasy.
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